HHSC Observes Deafblind Awareness Week

Deafblind Awareness Week is celebrated annually the last week in June and always includes June 27 — Helen Keller’s birthday. In 1904, Keller became the first deafblind person to earn a college degree in the U.S., and she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.

“A person who is deafblind has a unique experience of the world,” said Luz Garcia, HHSC Blind Children’s Vocational Discovery and Development Program (Blind Children’s Program) specialist. “For a young child who is deafblind, their world is often limited to what is within arm’s reach.

“Specialized services in the home, school and community are crucial for people who are deafblind growing up, and this requires a partnership between the child, family, medical providers, case managers and the educational team,” she said.

Art Show and Celebration

The Blind Children’s Program will host an art show and celebration from 10 a.m. to noon June 26 at the North Austin Complex located at 4601 W. Guadalupe St. in Austin. The theme for this event is “What I Wish You Knew.”

Presenters who are deafblind and parents of children who are deafblind will share the challenges and triumphs that come with having combined vision and hearing loss. This interactive event is open to the public.

The celebration will include:

  • A presentation and activities with deafblind mentors Heather Pavey and Erik Hammer.
  • A poetry reading and remarks from Blind Children’s Program deafblind participant Krishangi Shroff.
  • A panel discussion with parents of children who are deafblind.
  • A collection of art created by children who are deafblind and enrolled in Blind Children’s Program services.

More about Blind Children’s Program

The Blind Children’s Program works with children from birth to age 22 who are blind, visually impaired or deafblind to help them grow their independence skills through direct skills training, case management and parent education.

Specialists offer services for enrolled children who have combined vision and hearing loss. This can include support in developing communication skills in the home setting, improving collaboration between families and educational teams or service providers, and providing opportunities to connect with other children and families.

“Because the population of deafblind children is spread out across Texas, our targeted direct skills trainings allow deafblind children and their families to make connections with one another while learning new skills in supportive community settings,” said Meg Ponce, Blind Children’s Program specialist.

This spring and summer, the Blind Children’s Program is offering hands-on opportunities for children and families, including a deafblind family camp, tactile art lessons, an adapted museum tour and a tactile mosaic creation training. All events are tailored to accommodate different degrees of vision loss and hearing loss, communication styles and additional disabilities.

To learn more about services for children who are deafblind, visit the HHSC Blind Children’s Program webpage or the HHSC Deaf Blind with Multiple Disabilities webpage. For questions, email the Blind Children’s Program.